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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Facebook Failings . . .

I've been a fan of facebook for some time, but also a little concerned of the neediness and narcissism it can encourage. I've watched young friends and family members share exceptionally private matters and post a multitude of "selfies," many while still too young to legally use the medium and definitely too young to understand how easily it can be misused, but I've also watched those same young friends get encouragement and affirmation online when they're down or struggling. I was shocked the first time I received notification of the death of a friend via facebook, yet watched on with interest as family kept an uncle's page open and active after his death, and it became a living tribute to the man and a place they can go to visit with him, particularly those whanau far from home. A few weeks back, when a friend shared sad, sad news on her page, it seemed a smart way to make the announcement just the once rather than having to tell multiple people many times, and quickly became a way for those of us who love and admire her and her family to show that love without intruding.

I've also witnessed many changes social networks have made in society, not all of which are good. But life is change, and what we make of life comes from how we react and adapt to those changes, or in turn change the ones we dislike.

One good that is part of the social network process is the instant shaming of those who do ignorant, hurtful acts. From the salon owner in Michigan who berated the mother of an autistic child because he cried during his haircut, to the officials in China who handcuffed and humiliated a teen for spilling a drink on their car, the Internet has given power to ordinary people to say some things are unacceptable. That power can also be misused or taken too far, as all power can be.

It's interesting to watch that power, the power of the consumer, also alter the way the networks themselves conduct business. I have one friend who is an admin on a facebook community, Adventures of a Curvy Girl, who was banned yesterday for posting a picture of a fully dressed woman with a kitten lying across her chest. Facebook said it "violated community standards.

 It also recently rejected an ad about breast cancer because it contained an image of a woman's breast.

At the same time, it allows content featuring battered women, rape and violence, apparently claiming it falls under its definitions of "poor taste" or "crude attempts at humor." An internet campaign has thus far encouraged 15 companies that advertised on facebook to cancel their contracts, tho Dove, which markets itself as "committed to helping women realize their personal beauty potential," apparently has no problem with its ads appearing next to images such as one that shows a woman's face with her mouth taped and the words, "Don't wrap it and tap it, tape it and rape it."

Epic fail, facebook (perhaps you could rebrand yourself as talibanbook?).

Epic fail, Dove.

Good work, concerned Internet users.

UPDATE: Because the Internet moves quickly . . .

It's now being reported that Facebook has folded and released the following statement:

"In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate. In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria," the statement read. "We need to do better - and we will."

Yes, they do. Let's see if they will . . .


  1. Good stuff Tracie.when another mutual acquaintance cried out for help before going to the mayors office my reports went unanswered until days after he was arrested. Their algorithms are way off, and they should do better, but what is their standard of care or obligation when they don't charge a fee?

    Also, your light gray text with white background in the FB statement is really hard to read. But a great article anyway!


  2. Thanks JD,
    I've fixed the latter problem. That's what happens when I'm too lazy to transcribe but cut and paste instead . . .